Wednesday, April 26, 2006

In Honor of the Season...

I’ll phrase it like a seder question:

Why Ebertfest?

Why should a Brooklyn lass like myself Ebertfest (and, yes, it’s a verb) on the tail end of such exhaustive and exhausting NYC festivals as Gen Art and New Directors/New Films; when the Tribeca film festival is just beginning to rear its corporate-sponsored head; and (most importantly) when my beleaguered city is enjoying its only annual two-week window of decent weather? For that matter, why do any of us wile away the first sweet burst of spring in darkened theaters wolfing popcorn and staring at screens?

In all honesty, it is because Ebertfest is the platonic essence of a film festival. It is a leisurely event in which there are absolutely no choices to be made, with an enormous screen to ogle each careful selection and long sugar- and caffeine- and good ole Midwestern red meat-fueled intense debates capping off each night. It’s like film summer camp without the puberty blues or grad school without tuition bills or, well, insert extended metaphor here. It’s the best cure I know for cinennui; it’s a crash course in how to amiably disagree; it's a chance to live knee-deep in Ebertland (the festival is held at R. Ebert’s alma mater, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a very nice place to be) and Ebert proclivities (also a very nice place to be); it's an opportunity to listen to filmmakers and enthusiasts discuss cinema with a greater abandon than you’ll ever find on the boobtube or in overly self-conscious larger cities. And my goodness, it is terrific fun.

And so this broad sallies forth for her second year of attendance. Last time, I slurped strawberry shakes with Mario Van Peebles, there on behalf of his metametamovie Baadasssss!; reignited my junior-high school crush on Jason Patric; and did my best to get under the skin of the estimable Dusty Cohl, cofounder of the Toronto Film Festival — not to mention finally grasped the full appeal of Jacques Tati, wept my eyes out at the clear-eyed, big-hearted Yesterday, and hung out with the baadassssses in the baadasssssed Murderball. To name but a few highlights.

So I can only imagine what's in store this year. The lineup boasts an excellent cocktail of sober and silly, and the entire event kicks off with my second favorite musical of all times, the stick-this-in-your-George-Bernard-pipe-and-smoke-it My Fair Lady. We'll revisit a few of Sundance 2006's highlights (Somebodies and Brooklyn-grown Man Push Cart, yes, yes, y'all), hopefully discover whether Miss Amy Adams (of the undersung, lowslung Junebug) is as endearing in person (I'm guessing yes). And the list goes on.

Why Ebertfest? I say: why not? And I blog this absolutely unprompted by a corporate sponsor in any way, as I shall be for the entire duration of la festival. Take that, Tribeca!


Blogger Pat said...

Thanks for the kind words about our town . . . I was also impressed by the guests and films last year, particularly Yesterday (Map of the Human Heart, however, I could have and would have preferred to do without, though I didn't tell Jason Scott Lee that when I spoke with him later).

I'm impressed that a film buff from New York is willing to make the trip to this little yet awesome town. The movies this year look great too, though I'm not going to have an opportunity to get to all of them. Have fun!


10:41 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Thanks for your insight! Hey, how's Mr. Malkovich about meeting his fans? I'm a big fan and nothing would make me happier than to get a picture with him! Coming tonight from about 3 hours away in western Illinois!


9:23 AM  

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